Rural communities in August reported having just under 900,000 fewer jobs than in the same month a year ago, a decline of 4.3%.
In most times, this would be a dismal record. But in the economy shaped by Covid-19 over the last six months, rural America is doing much better than the rest of the country.
For example, in the central cities of the nation’s metropolitan areas with a million or more people, there were 3.6 million fewer jobs this August compared to a year ago. That is a decline of 8%. In the suburbs of those giant cities, the decline in jobs reached 6.9%.
The unemployment rate is also lower in rural counties, on average. In August, rural counties had an average unemployment rate of 6.8%. In the central areas of major metropolitan areas, the unemployment rate in August of this year was 10.3%. The nation as a whole had an unemployment rate of 8.5% in August.
Counties that voted for Hillary Clinton lost a higher percentage of jobs (a negative 7.9%) than those that supported Donald Trump (a negative 4.5%), a reflection of how job losses have been larger in the core counties of urban areas where Clinton was most popular in 2016.
The map above shows how the number of jobs gained or lost in every U.S. county between August 2019 and August of this year. As you mouse over the map, you can find your local employment numbers. Every county has a different story.
Local economies continue to show an effect on employment in both rural and urban counties. Counties that have a large number of jobs in recreation (hotels, restaurants, theme parks, etc.) have lost a higher percentage of jobs than counties with farming economies.
In rural recreation counties, jobs have dropped 6.4% since last August. In rural farm counties, jobs are down by just 3.8%.
Recreation counties in urban areas have seen their jobs decline by 8.5% since last August.
The four urban counties that have lost the highest percentage of jobs from August 2019 to August of this year are all recreation counties: Maui County, Hawaii; Barnstable County, Massachusetts; Cape May County, New Jersey; and Monterey County, California.
Six of the top ten job declines among rural counties depend on recreation: Mono County, California; San Juan County, Washington; Denali Borough, Alaska; Skagway City, Alaska; Teton County, Wyoming; and Dickinson County, Iowa.
Albany County, Wyoming, added the most jobs since last August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, gaining over 2,500 jobs in the last year. The highest unemployment rate in rural America was in Jefferson County, Mississippi. The unemployment rate there in August was 20.8%.